Pang Jiun was born in 1936 in a family with artistic background. Having a father who played a significant role in developing Chinese modern art undoubtedly paved the way for Pang to become an artist himself. Pang's artistry was evident at an early stage, as he was accepted into the Hangzhou Academy of Fine Art when he was 13. He later transferred to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in the 1950s, and studied under one of the greatest Chinese modern painters Xu Beihong. Xu was one of the first generations of Chinese artists to study abroad in Europe, and therefore encompassed Western perspectives in art. This undoubtedly shaped Pang's knowledge of Western aesthetics, and also influenced him to use oil paint in his works. Having a strong foundation in Western oil painting, and inspired by traditional Chinese culture, Pang is known for his talent in expressing both artistic techniques from the West, and employing the philosophical theories of traditional Chinese thinking and culture to his works. Through his sketches and drawings, Pang keeps the characteristics of oil painting while integrating with the lyrical strokes of traditional Chinese painting, skilfully composes his own unique artistic style and language.
Three Peony (Lot 518) and Waterfall (Lot 519) are two paintings that fully demonstrate the scope of Pang's talent in still life and landscape paintings. While the background of both works are painted in a monotonous grey tone, it contrasts with the natural earth tone colours of the subject in the foreground, conveying an organic perspective of the world in a realistic manner. Perhaps such narrow range of colours reflects Pang's emotions at the time while he was creating them, that there are only hints of bright yellow paint which suggest a more optimistic tone.
These two lots show Pang's competency in incorporating the subtlety of Chinese philosophical thinking, rendering a lyrical and poetic composition that is inherent in traditional Chinese paintings. At the same time, they also exhibit the techniques and characteristics of Western aesthetics with areas of thick impasto, displaying an almost impressionistic portrayal of the subjects. Above all, they carry with them spiritual elements and aesthetic beauty that is deeply rooted in Pang's heart.
Dream Home (Lot 517) is another spectacular landscape painting illustrating houses with red roofs along the river. Pang's affinity for red roofed houses has its roots in the old neighbourhood of the Shanghai French Concession his family had lived in, where the roofs of most houses there along the alleys were tiled in red. In addition, Pang and his father also visited Qingdao before which is a city filled with red roof top houses, heavily influenced by Western architectural designs when the city was once a colony of Germany. Titled Dream Home, this painting implies that the scenery depicted is an imaginary allusion creatively constructed by Pang, instead of the landscape of Qingdao or Shanghai French Concession. Most importantly, it is a work that expresses Pang's veneration for his artist father, who had previously painted a similar painting of houses with red roofs (Fig. 1). Pang painted such painting as if paying homage to his father's talent, while at the same time commemorating the places he has lived and visited, as well as expressing his love for his parents. Dream Home successfully brings out the sense and feelings on Pang's mind while he was creating the work.
Resembling Three Peony and Waterfall, Dream Home also reveals Pang's strong foundation in oil painting, with rhythmic brushwork and contrasting texture. The dynamic brushstrokes reflect Pang's interest of listening to Mozart's symphonies when painting, as though gracefully responding to the rhythm and melody of musical notes. Such varied brushwork not only enriches the dimensionality of the painting, but also presents a vivid representation of the landscape portrayed, full of cadence and flowing rhythm similar to those of Chinese calligraphy. These three paintings not only see Pang's strong foundation of oil painting and realistic depictions of his subjects, but also open up a new visual vocabulary that contains both the essence of traditional Chinese landscape painting and the elements of Western Modern aesthetics. The essential element that lies at the core of Pang's artistic practice is the way in which he observes and expresses his subject matter in the objective world, embodying his own thoughts, inspirations, and feelings.